Readers of this blog know that my recent book presents what’s essentially a Whiteheadian (and Peircian) theory of cinema. (A theory, not the theory. And when compared to something as deeply Whiteheadian in its details as, say, Donald Sherburne’s A Whiteheadian Aesthetic, mine is, at best, “inspired by Whitehead.”)
Tag Archive: Whitehead
While I find much to admire in Tim Morton’s writings (and in him personally, as I’ve recently related), I’m sure he knows that his writing on what he calls “lava lampy materialism” leaves me unconvinced. (I’ve discussed that topic here, here, and elsewhere.)
I haven’t read his Realist Magic yet, so I can’t comment on the book’s arguments as a whole. But I’ve read some sections of it, including those which reiterate Morton’s critique of Whitehead’s “lava lampy” process philosophy. And, as before, I have trouble following these arguments. I would have eventually articulated a response to them, but Nathan Brown has spared me that trouble with his review (pdf warning) of Realist Magic in the latest Parrhesia.
Conversation overheard between an ambitious grad student and a simpleminded process-relational philosopher . . .
Jake Wanano-Everton: Sir, where do you draw the line between what’s real and what’s not real?
Prof. Noah Fewthings: The only things that are real are the moments of experienced reality — drops of experience, let’s call them — pulsing through the vector stream of the universe right now. There are lots and lots of them, too many to count: what you and I are experiencing right now are only two, or more accurately some, of billions and billions unfolding at this moment. And this one. And this one. They are all that’s real; and they are irreducibly real.
I’ve always been more of an improviser than a long-range planner, but my job requires that I occasionally dabble in long-range projections of my work. Here’s one.
While a number of concerns have framed my scholarship over the years — ethical, political, cultural, ecological, and theoretical concerns — the philosophical core of it has been solidifying around a certain conceptual machine, which I am setting to work in different contexts.
A few cousin blogs have already mentioned Figure/Ground’s interview with Steven Shaviro, which I recommend for those interested in Whitehead, speculative realism, media theory, and other themes explored on this blog.
Shaviro has insightful things to say about Isabelle Stengers’ role in reviving an interest in Whitehead, Gilbert Simondon and his (and Whitehead’s) relevance for ecological thinking, and Francis Fukuyama’s neo-conservative critique of the academic tenure system.
Now that a very busy semester has ended, I can return to the constructive speculative-metaphysical strand of this blog, in which I work out the process-relational philosophy I’ve tentatively labelled Ecosophy-G. A suitable acronym for this project might be “pre-G” (process-relational ecosophy-G), pronounced “pree-jee,” with the “pre” also indicating that the philosophy is a form of pre-articulation, a work in progress, and the “ge” referring, among other things, to the “Ge-” of geography, geophilosophy, and geode.
“Ultimately, the thinking of speculative pragmatism that is activist philosophy belongs to nature. Its aesthetico-politics compose a nature philosophy. The occurrent arts in which it exhibits itself are politics of nature.
“The one-word summary of its relational-qualitative goings on: ecology. Activist philosophy concerns the ecology of powers of existence. Becomings in the midst. Creative change taking place, self-enjoying, humanly or no, humanly and more.”
These two short paragraphs close the Introduction to Brian Massumi’s recent, and thoroughly Whiteheadian, book Semblance and Event. They serve as a good epigraph to what I’d like to discuss here, which is the “neo-Whiteheadian wave” I see arising in cultural theory and its connections to ecology and to “speculative realism” (which, in Massumi’s hands, becomes speculative pragmatism; the differences are worth exploring).
The Speculative Realist blogosphere has recently been alight with debates over the role of religion, God, theism versus nihilism, the secular and the “post-secular,” and other such things. Since these are topics I’m naturally interested, and somewhat invested, in, I ought to participate, but time constraints have made that all but impossible for me recently.
(One of those constraints is a trip this week to the Rachel Carson Center in Munich for “Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, and Ecocinema,” about which I intend to blog, and perhaps live-blog, while there. I leave tomorrow, so stay tuned for more on that.)
Adam’s post Knowledge Ecology provides a useful way into these discussions, but see also these posts at Footnotes to Plato (and this one), Plastic Bodies, Immanent Transcendence, Larval Subjects, and After Nature.
Differences are starting to emerge in our group reading of Integral Ecology, with Tim Morton taking a grumpy stance from the back of the car while others are measured but generally more positive in their assessments. Tim’s main criticism seems to be the Object-Oriented Ontological one that E/Z’s categories “map perfectly onto normal everyday human prejudices,” and specifically prejudices against non-sentient beings. Tim writes: